How to lead your tribe

Best selling author Nick Williams started off as the owner of a small business and has now morphed into an inspired entrepreneur. In this article, he reflects on the new paradigm – Doing what you love and being paid for it.

I am fascinated by leadership and what it means today, especially for inspired entrepreneurs. My whole view of leadership and business shifted when I read Tribes by Seth Godin in April 2009.

I write, speak, coach, mentor, create products and programmes, and broadcast, and run a business, but I evolved my job description to include the idea of also being a tribal leader after reading his book.

The lines I loved were, “The secret of leadership is simple: Do what you believe in. Paint a picture of the future. Go there. People will follow.” Today, anybody with a message can build a following and create their business serving their tribe.

In 1989, I left a corporate job that didn’t inspire or fulfil me to follow my heart and my own sense of calling to start speaking, writing, coaching and workshops. I find my work today deeply fulfilling, and know it is the work I was born to do and why I was put on this planet. I know many people feel trapped in their work, and ways of thinking about work, that leave them leading small and diminished lives and so much of their potential going unfulfilled. Work is a canvass of suffering rather than joy for many people. I have learned a lot and perhaps equally importantly have unlearned a lot, and now my greatest joys is sharing what I have learned along the way with others. I believe work can be as source of deep fulfilment and the expression of our unique gifts and talents. I know you it is possible to undergo significant transformation in your life and create a better life. I now spend my time inspiring others to new futures, and both teaching and demonstrating how to get there. Doing this is my spiritual purpose.

Great leadership takes people where they want to go.

Great leadership invites inspiration rather than merely to motivate. Inspiration touches people’s hearts and souls as well as their minds, and lights a fire that can burn forever. Old models of leadership were often about getting people to do what the leader wanted them to. Inspirational leaders encourage people to become what they are capable of becoming, they assume there is a greatness in others and the leaders to elicits the greatness that is there already. The greatest leaders serve a higher purpose than their own ego gratification or money. Motivation is what happens when you take hold of an idea, while inspiration is what happens when an idea takes hold of you. Leaders let ideas take hold in their heart and let the fire lead them forward for a lifetime to become the person they were born to be.

Build and serve your tribe

Today more than ever, people are coalescing around common interests, values, shared visions and causes. And one of the most enjoyable and focused ways to build a business today is to become the leader of a tribe. Most entrepreneurs and business owner spend their time and energy marketing to the crowd whilst inspired entrepreneurs assemble, inspire and lead the tribe. It can feel luxurious to believe that “anybody could be my client” but the reality is that not everyone will be. When you are aware of your own brilliance and the impact you have on people when you are at your best, then you can identify who your tribe of ideal clients are; who you can best serve.

Great leaders are actually servants – they put themselves in service to the members of their tribe. By consistently touching a tribe of people, you earn the right to lead. Their credibility to lead is derived from see an exciting future, having gone there themselves, being an authentic embodiment of the message, and genuinely wanting to help people along on their journey.

So today I serve a tribe of people who are building their own businesses around their particular passions and sense of purpose. And I also serve people who are not yet doing that, but would love to join that tribe. My personal take on leadership is this: The true leadership is an act of love, and true leaders serve a purpose greater than their personal gain or aggrandisement. You can’t lead in fear. Truly great leaders choose to lead because they care enough about people in order to want to create positive change, often in response to seeing suffering and wanting to alleviate it, and to help people reach their aspirations and inspirations. And paradoxically, by setting out to serve others first, leaders often become very successful themselves.

The call for leadership doesn’t only come from out in the marketplace, but from within the heart. It usually comes from overcoming some personal obstacle or challenge and then wanting to give back. No need for a position to lead any more. Leadership is a choice, and is usually a heart based decision to contribute and make a difference.

What is the job description of a leader of a tribe?

Caring is the key emotion at the centre of the tribe, so the leaders job is to care. If you don’t care – really and deeply care – then you can’t possibly lead effectively and there be no tribe. As a leader, you’ve made an inner choice and decision to put your own gifts and talents out into the world. You have become your own advocate because you know your contribution matters. You know you can impact the emotion and soul of the people they are attempting to lead, influence or educate in order to evoke inspiration, imagination and innovation.

So the key elements of a tribe leaders job description are:

1. To clarify and articulate the messages that the tribe believes in and live by
2. Create an overarching narrative that is universal and touches people deeply
3. To be a cheer leader for members – support, encourage, celebrate and connect the members of the tribe
4. To inspire, educate and where necessary walk next and hand hold people
5. To bring in others who can help members on their journey
6. To connect with the tribe and enable connection with each other

Today you don’t need anyone to anoint or appoint you to lead, you can anoint yourself and choose to create your own platform. Everything you need to build something bigger than yourself already exists. It has never been easier to create a leadership platform – to create blogs, to create video, publish yourself, speak and teach. As a result there is a hug amount of noise out there, and I think you differentiate yourself through your own authenticity, not by becoming some image of what you think will work, but by becoming more and more your real self.

But authentic leadership is not for the fainthearted.

I believe that true leaders need to be rigorous with themselves and commit to their own growth, skill and character building. They are vigilant in identifying and acknowledging their conditioned limits and the limiting stories they tell themselves. To sustain the legitimacy of their leadership, they tend to commit to doing the deeply personal work of identifying and cutting through the layers of their own ego and fears so that they can operate from their own soul. At times, they endure great vulnerability, but then discover new well-springs of their own energy, new gifts, new talents and insights.

They inspire and lead themselves first so they can then lead and inspire others. There are people they are well equipped to serve and true leaders develop their ministry as leaders. They become more comfortable in their own skin and people feel safer around them. Then they begin to clarify how they can best make an authentic contribution. They find the place of their own true worth, and as Stephen Covey so eloquently expressed, “Leadership is communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly that they are inspired to see it in themselves.” Leaders dig deep into themselves to find their own heart, soul and divinity so that they can inspire others to find that within them.

If you are not yet clear about the work you were born to do, or want to know how to become an inspired entrepreneur, you can download your free copy of a nine part programme to help you discover it now at:

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